Villagers—Land grabbing, drug, human trafficking in Carapichaima

There is said to be an “in­va­sion” of Colom­bians and Venezue­lans at Brick­field in Cara­pichaima which are caus­ing grave con­cerns by vil­lagers who are claim­ing that il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties are on a ram­pant in­crease in­clud­ing State land grab­bing, drug traf­fick­ing, guns and am­mu­ni­tion traf­fick­ing and hu­man traf­fick­ing.

The vil­lagers are now call­ing on Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith and oth­er rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties to in­ter­vene and “clean up the area” in an at­tempt to re­store peace, law and or­der.

They claim that their nu­mer­ous re­ports to a near­by po­lice sta­tion have fall­en on “deaf ears and blind eyes” main­ly be­cause they be­lieve that there is an al­leged re­la­tion­ship be­tween a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer at the sta­tion and a fe­male Colom­bian woman.

It is al­leged that the woman is the moth­er of a young Colom­bian man who is de­scribed as the “mas­ter­mind” be­hind many of the il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in the area.

It is al­leged that the Colom­bian young man is in­volved in back­fill­ing swamp lands at Tem­ple Road and block­ing off lots of land with steel posts and wire fenc­ing and sell­ing it be­tween $10,000 to $15,000.

Guardian Me­dia went to the area and cap­tured sev­er­al im­ages of the land de­vel­op­ment. When ap­proached sev­er­al squat­ters de­nied to di­vulge any in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing how they end­ed up liv­ing in their re­spec­tive spots. Some, who al­leged­ly pur­chased land from the Colom­bian al­so re­fused to di­vulge any in­for­ma­tion, how­ev­er, point­ed out a small wood­en house that is al­leged­ly owned and oc­cu­pied by the young man. No one was at the house at the time of Guardian Me­dia’s vis­it.

One vil­lager, who wished not to be iden­ti­fied for fear of his life, said vil­lagers are threat­ened to “keep their mouths shut.”

“Many times our re­ports to the sta­tion are not be­ing tak­en. If our calls are an­swered we are be­ing told that there is no po­lice car avail­able…most times the sta­tion’s phones ring out…no an­swer,” the vil­lager said.

“We need our vil­lage back! We have guns point­ed to our faces, we are robbed and bul­lied by the Venezue­lans and Colom­bians. We see the trans­port ve­hi­cles com­ing in and go­ing out with drugs and guns in­clud­ing pri­vate cars, po­lice ve­hi­cles and am­bu­lances be­cause who re­al­ly go­ing to stop an am­bu­lance or po­lice car?” the vil­lager added.

There are al­so sev­er­al bars op­er­at­ing in the area that have hired the Colom­bian and Venezue­lan women to work 24/7, some of whom are be­ing de­scribed as “slaves” by the vil­lagers who claim that they strong­ly be­lieve that their pass­port are be­ing tak­en away by the bar own­ers and there­fore they have no oth­er choice but to work in the bars and “fol­low what­ev­er in­struc­tions they are al­leged­ly giv­en.”

At least four pri­vate cars have been ob­served and iden­ti­fied as “trans­porter ve­hi­cles” one of which is seen be­ing dri­ven by the Colom­bian man.

When con­tact­ed yes­ter­day for com­ment Cou­va North Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Ra­mona Ram­di­al con­firmed State land grab­bing is­sues over the years since the Peo­ple’s Part­ner­ship gov­ern­ment but ad­mit­ted that in the last year there has been an in­crease in squat­ters in the Tem­ple Road, Bay Road and an area re­ferred to as Mon­tano Farms.

Ram­di­al, whilst not be­ing able to di­vulge the iden­ti­ties of the peo­ple in­volved in the il­le­gal land de­vel­op­ment and sale of the lands said that she wouldn’t put it pass the in­volve­ment of the Colom­bians.

“State lands be­ing tak­en and sold over by squat­ters and crim­i­nal el­e­ments is in fact true. I know peo­ple have got­ten shot over land that was sold to them and be­fore they knew it the land was resold to some­one else. The is­sue of squat­ting has been a very volatile is­sue in Brick­field for many years, “ Ram­di­al said.

She, how­ev­er, not­ed that some squat­ters have been giv­en let­ters of com­fort be­cause of the length of time they have been oc­cu­py­ing the lands but added that even they are now the tar­gets of the in­creas­ing im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tion in the area.

“I would want to be­lieve that the Colom­bians may be in­volved be­cause of some sto­ries I have heard that are amaz­ing,” Ram­di­al said.

The mem­ber of par­lia­ment al­so said that the Brick­field area is a very vi­able area to ex­plore for tourist pur­pos­es be­cause years ago peo­ple would go there be­cause of the swamp and for bird watch­ing, “What is al­so brew­ing is that lo­cals squat­ting on a por­tion of state lands called Mon­tano Farms by the fish­ing de­pot which was giv­en for aqua cul­ture where shrimp farm­ing was done but that didn’t work out so the land was left aban­doned…now be­cause of the squat­ters a mas­sive steel struc­ture has been erect­ed block­ing off the coast­line dis­rupt­ing fish­er­men, oys­ter and crab catch­ers from ply­ing their trade. Their ac­cess is blocked off.”

Ram­di­al said she has sub­mit­ted re­ports to the Min­is­ter of Agricul­tre Clarence Ramb­harat and the Plan­ning Min­is­ter Camille Robin­son-Reg­is. She added that pos­i­tive feed­back was giv­en by both min­is­ters to ad­dress the is­sues.

CoP Grif­fith is in re­ceipt of the in­for­ma­tion and will in­ter­vene.

Source Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant
Via Trinidad and Tobago Guardian
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